What's Going on Here...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I'm Back...at least for a little while!

WOW! Can I just say that changing grades at my age has truly kicked my b^** ( I was not allowed to say that word as a child so I feel a little funny typing it for the world to read! LOL). I forgot how hard first year teaching can be - since it has been 23 years ago! Add to that a little dose of chemo, radiation, hormone therapy, night/day/all the time sweats and you get one tired, mixed up, tuckered out 3rd grade teacher! 
Don't get me wrong - I LOVE my new job, but the "ole gray mare just ain't what she used to be"! 
So, we are out for Christmas Vacation - let me hear a WHOOP, WHOOP - and my hope is to reconnect with my cyber buddies out there to see what's been happening with you all since school started. I for one have been trapped in a tornado and have been fighting to find my way out. Maybe the second semester will be a tad easier... yeah, right?!
Just for fun - and to remind myself that I CAN be creative (I feel like such a novice right now) - I have remade a few documents that you all have been asking for. So sorry that I haven't responded to ONE SINGLE email, but I did read them. I also apologize that these are Christmas activities and obviously we are no longer in school.... It's a shame I didn't have the forethought to use a widely popular graphics program when I first started making games. Who knew?
"Shopping for Santa's Suit"  and
"Cookie Fractions" Spinner

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Good News and MORE Good News!

As many of you know, I have stage IV Breast Cancer. This means that my initial cancer, after chemo, radiation and surgery ended up spreading into my bones. Since receiving the news I have been going through hormone - inhibitor therapy (shots, shots, and more shots). Well, as bad as I hated shots as a kid I have to say that I now LOVE them! As of my last scan one spot is completely gone and the other, larger one on my spine - in the doctor's most WONDERFUL words - is HEALING! No new spots were found. I know that many of you have prayed for me and I wanted to share my great news with you. Jesus Christ is still in the business of meeting our needs! I don't know why He chose to look my way, but I know how merciful, compassionate and loving He is because He died and rose again for me. This was just one more proof of HIS greatness. I hope that you know Him....

The other good news - at least I see it this way - is that I am moving to 3rd grade next year! I have taught K's for 15 years and desperately need a change. For those of you who have "fought the good fight" for 20 years+ my hat is off to you! My poor, old body just can't keep up with the energy needed anymore. You all know exactly what kind of energy I am talking about! Some days it is like trying to herd cats - wonderful, but still very taxing on the old bod. :-) I hope to keep up the blog as long as it is helpful. I truly have enjoyed the ride!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Zoo...part 3!

 I love how these turned out! This time of year the writing just reinforces our state DIBELS assessment we are doing this week, plus all the phonics and sight word work we've worked on all year. This is the time it ALL comes together-putting all this knowledge together to make a WONDERFUL keepsake!

All of my video segments are found on www.unitedstreaming.com. The site has most anything you could ever want!

There is more science in this lesson than math. The fact for this page is something like, "A zebra's stripes are like my fingerprints. No two are the same." The math is the graph where we determine which type of fingerprint we have - arch, loop, whirl, or other (found in a Mailbox Magazine years ago). After looking at our fingerprints through a loupe to determine the pattern of our fingerprints, we save the cards to go on our fact page. 


While our zebra stripes are drying we read the book, How the Zebra Got His Stripes. We then look through some Zoo Books and Geo Kids magazines for zebra facts. We then complete our chart.
 Next, we work together to choose a fact which best describes our illustration. This is a great teaching moment of reinforcing how pictures give clues to the words. After we are all in agreement, we write the words together, finding our "star words" on the wall, and sounding out the other words. It's a great thing to watch when the kiddos no longer need me! I love that moment!
 HERE is a zebra video segment.


A monkey's tail is like a hand...enough said. HERE is a great video!

I found a copy of a gorilla's hand. The kiddos trace it then make a print of their hand to compare the size.

The alligator has an "extra" set of eyelids - like swimming goggles. There is a GREAT video segment on United Streaming that gets really close so you can see the lid going up to cover the eye. COOL!

I got this great interchangeable spinner a few weeks ago. It is great for lots of things, but lately I've used it to determine which "star word" we'll use on our chart as we list facts we know about our animal of study. One child comes and spins, everyone of course YELLS the word, then I choose someone to complete the sentence using the word. It's just a little twist to mix things up a bit.

Lions sleep 20 hours each day! Lazy!! HERE is the video.
You could go on and on! Find YOUR fun facts and let me know what art work you come up with! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

We're Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo...Part II

If anyone knows anything about me they know that I must INTEGRATE all subjects as much as possible. It's in my blood. I like a challenge and it is one of those things I love about teaching - making it all "fit". I hear your "amens"! Thank goodness there's SOMEONE out there that understands!
Here is one of those units that took a LOT of time, headache, sweat and eventually EXCITEMENT to create. About 15 years ago, a friend and I spent several days thinking, researching, planning to come up with our first 
Fact Book. 
The following is photographic journey through the end product!
 The giraffe is one of my favorite animals! Giraffe's tongues are blue and 18 inches long! I see math and science in there right off. NOW, let's get that book started!
This is 1 of 4 stations. While one group is  measuring their elephant trunks with foot rulers,  and others are playing addition games, this group is measuring with inch blocks.
The children use inch blocks and rulers to measure and cut their own giraffe's tongue. Some are fat, some are very thin, but it is THEIR work.
A giraffe's tongue is about as long as a child's arm!

These guys are using a ruler AND inch blocks! This is a great assessment of "counting on"/conservation of number. Can they start at 12 and count 6 more or do they go back to 1 each time? This is an important 1st grade skill if you are wondering if a child needs another year of K....
I love that the kiddos have to trace the giraffe stencil! What GREAT fine motor practice.

To integrate literacy the kiddos helped to choose a fact that BEST represents our illustration. Then, we record that fun fact by counting our words, double checking, stretching each word and writing together. We also identify our "star words" as we use them. I definitely believe in authentic reasons to use our skills!
HERE is a great video segment to introduce this lesson. Scroll through the clips to find the one about giraffes.

This fact page also includes measurement. This time we use our "foot ruler" to measure our 6 ft. trunks!
What a sight - kiddos spread out all over the room working together to measure 6 ft. accurately. I LOVE the different trunks - they are hilarious!! Music? "The Baby Elephant Walk" by Henry Mancini, of course! We march around to the music like baby elephants. I first heard this music while watching a segment of Wild Kingdom when I was little - some of you went right back just then! Oh, to be young again! Find a video clip of baby elephants and play this music - too cute!
HERE is a great video segment!
We paint the elephant's face, then add eyes and ears cut from construction paper. We add the trunks each day as the groups work on them during math stations.

You might ask, "why red?" Well...I like to use bulletin board paper so that the kiddos have plenty of room to measure and cut out their trunks. This way the kiddos get lots of cutting practice! Whatever color we have is what color we use! It doesn't hurt that I am an Alabama fan!!! :-)
Measuring the trunks is 1 of 4 math stations. Taking turns through stations helps to keep the chaos down!
I roll the trunks up and paper clip them to keep them out of the way.  As we make an animal,  I clip them onto the one before. When we are finished all I have to do is take down that child's group of pages and staple. 

What are the other kiddos doing???
This group is playing Match My Number. I don't remember where this game originated - it isn't mine, but I have "revamped" it many times to fit my theme. The kiddos roll the number die, then either add or subtract that many animals from the group to make the group match the number rolled. 
 Here is a recording sheet for you! 
This is a cover-up game. The kiddos match the sum to the number sentence rolled.

Friday, April 22, 2011

We're Going to the ZOO, ZOO, ZOO...

If you are like me, I am ALWAYS trying to think of ways to introduce lessons in a fun, exciting way, while transitioning from one unit to another in a meaningful, connected way! Talk about a headache! I should own stock in the Bayer Aspirin company! So, if you are looking for a transition from Farm/Insects to Zoo here is my idea of a fun "hook" activity...
After reviewing our previous week's learning, we make predictions about the book, Chickens Aren't the Only Ones. We've classified our animals into "clubs" throughout our previous units (Insect Club, Mammal Club, Bird Club, etc.) These are exclusive clubs, and you MUST meet the criteria to become a member. Then, I tell my kiddos that a new "club" of animals are hiding inside the  eggs in my basket. I then pass out big, plastic eggs to each child and ask for guesses as to what the new club could be. We all open our eggs together to find our next study - REPTILES!

We list the animals found in the eggs on a chart named, Reptiles.
Afterwards, each child draws the animal found 

inside their egg, and "puts" it into an egg that opens and closes.

Each day after the introduction we complete a page in our Reptiles book.
Here is the book my husband and I wrote during an evening out a few years ago! Now, you know how much school is part of my life. We sat at our favorite pizza place writing a reptile book ON NAPKINS, covering a "fact" about each type of reptile - but it also had to RHYME! My husband is such a good sport. He deserves an award for putting up with my maddness!
 This is the finished product....

We illustrate a page a day as we read and learn about each reptile. 
Alligators and Crocs are last to transition us into our Zoo Fact Book unit.
We begin each animal study with fun music to provide the "hook", then off we go to a great book!  

We complete a thinking map for each animal.
Here is our map about Alligators!
Please come back as we complete the Zoo Fact Book next week!
Here is the first page!